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The Prison of Loneliness

Photo by Alexandra Latypova
I am an extrovert of extroverts! You know the typical, center of attention; life of the party, never met a stranger type. Most people see me as fun, engaging, and full of life. And in some ways that is true, but those same people are incredibly shocked when I tell them that most days, I feel tremendously lonely.
"You?" They say, “But you know everyone! You have so many friends!”
Well, if that’s true, why do I feel the weight of loneliness like an anchor chained deep to my soul?
Maybe you’re like me, maybe you can be in a room full of people, laughing, talking and seemingly having a blast, but deep down inside, you feel as if you are in that room alone. No one really gets you. No one really sees you. These people don’t really like you, and these are probably the soundtrack of thoughts that play over and over again in your mind. I know they do for me. These thoughts, or better categorized as lies, seem so deeply engrained in my being, so every time a person walks by without speaking to me, or only a few people laugh at my joke, I am reminded that they don’t like me anyway.
But I’m tired, aren’t you? I'm tired of this inner dialogue between these lies and me. Tired of the deep loneliness, tired of not feeling like I matter, and not feeling like I am loved, valued, needed or liked. I’m tired of waking up in the morning and being sad that I’m still here. Another day that I have to fake-it-till-I-make-it, but really, I’m not faking it. This isn’t living. So what’s the answer? How do we break these chains of self-hatred, loneliness, and depression?
Here’s what I am doing and although I’m not “on the other side yet, I am getting there.
  1. Counseling- I know, I know... why revisit your past and dig up what’s been buried? Because believe it or not, your present loneliness is connected to something. Something that wounded you and told you that you don’t belong here.
But counseling is expensive and I don’t have insurance!  I work Part-time, go to school full time and am paying for school out of pocket. Counseling is one of the best investments you can make for yourself. Skip out on the Starbucks, booze, and Netflix and get your soul healed.
But what if I can’t find a good one? I have been in and out of counseling for over 10 years, and just a few months ago did I find “the one”. She’s not perfect, but better than the rest. She’s safe, patient, and calls me out on my crap. She’s good. But it took time to find her. This is a risk, but one that is well worth it.
What if my family makes fun of me? Is your family, friends, or whomever else that would make fun of you going to counseling, be people whom you want to mimic your life after? I didn’t think so. Listen, people will say what they want to try to control your life. But you want to be whole. You want to be emotionally stable. If they can’t get with it, that’s their problem. Not yours.
But my pain is too deep to revisit. This one is the scariest for me. But as it was stated in a book that my counselor assigned for me to read, Mending the Soul, if I don’t actually face this pain and pursue healing, I will revisit it- knowingly or not. We revisit it through suffering with PTSD, re-enactment, re-victimization and the alike. When we seek to ignore the root of our pain, we often times, unconsciously attempt to vindicate ourselves, but too often we add more pain, more wounds, more disappointment. Counseling helps to acknowledge these patterns in our lives and get to the root of them. The only way “over it” is “through it”.
  1. Community- I can hear you now, why would I want to invite people into my life now? I am so messed up and they don’t need to see this part of me. But here’s the deal, we’re all broken and, we were created for community. Listen, we’ve already discussed your loneliness, so let’s give it a chance. But I am talking about genuine community. Getting raw and vulnerable with people who are trustworthy, and who “get it”. People whom you can sit on their couch, and they listen to you and say, “I’m sorry. That does suck, here’s some chocolate!” Community is scary. Vulnerability is scary.  But it has saved my life in the past few months. Maybe for you it will be attending at 12-step program if you’re struggling with addiction. Maybe you need to find a good church that is full of messed up people who seek to love other messed up people. Maybe it will be a book club, art club or whatever group. Let people know you. Tell them that you’re lonely. Let them hold you and tell you that you are loved.
  2. Grace- Too often I am impatient with myself and expect to be 100% healed within three days. But that’s silly, I am learning to give myself grace. To be patient with my process of healing and to allow myself room for mistakes, setbacks and mishaps. The dictionary has one definition for grace as- generosity of spirit, a capacity to tolerate, accommodate, or forgive people. Let us seek to tolerate, accommodate and forgive ourselves.   
As I wrap this up, knowing that the short list above doesn’t encapsulate the totality of the pathway to healing, but it’s a good place to start. I want you to know something, I understand loneliness, and it sucks. But you don’t always have to be acquainted with it. Freedom is possible, so let’s journey there together. Get help, you’re worth it. Please believe me when I say it, you’re worth it and so am I.  

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